Thursday, May 24, 2012

What An Insult!

Richard Warren, among 10 passengers in the lan...
Richard Warren, among 10 passengers in the landing party, when the Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod, November 11, 1620 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was teaching grade 6 a student came to me in tears one day because a boy had called her a 'ho'.

"He called you a hoe?" I asked, genuinely puzzled.

Now it isn't always easy to get information from a sobbing eleven year old but I did eventually figure out that he had said 'ho' not 'hoe'.

(You have to be a pre-teen to be able to hear the difference.)

I also learned that while the latter was still a tool one might use in the vegetable patch, the former was not one third of Santa's greeting anymore.

I mention this because I've had the old e-reader fired up recently and am in the process of reading Making Haste From Babylon, (Nick Bunker, Knopf).

It is about the social and economic factors in England that led to Puritanism and the sailing of the Mayflower to North America.

Trust me, it is a lot more interesting than it sounds.

Anyway, those Puritans knew a thing or two about insults.

No calling each other hos in the 16th century.

To the Puritans you might have been:

a usurer, a conjurer, a blasphemer, a fornicator, a fornicatrix,  or, (horrors), a swaggerer. 

Now those are classy insults.


One can only hope that the rise and fall of our civilization cannot be tracked by the quality of the insults that we  hurl at one and other.

Otherwise some shit-for-brains-scuzzbag will be our next Prime Minister.

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Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

I like the insults the Puritans used; they really were quite classy. You could insult someone in the old days and it would almost sound poetic :)

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Oooooo, I'd love to be known as a fornicatrix! Actually, anything "-atrix".

Jane said...

Thou pribbling tickle-brained coxcomb!! Their insults at least showed some imagination. Our over-all words in current use shrink every year - no wonder we're down to a cliche half dozen or so insults.

The Dancing Crone said...

Weli I must say Jane, nothing tells a person that they are an idiot more than 'probing tickle-brained coxcomb'! :D

Jane said...

I just referred to my handy 'Shakspearean Insult Generator', lol!

Anonymous said...

Some might say that we already have such a Prime Minister! Along with his ninnyhammer sidekick.

The Dancing Crone said...

Well, I am jealous that you Brits have a PM with a ninnyhammer sidekick. However on the bright side, even without knowing what it means, I do believe it likely descibes our Minister of Defense!

Doug Jamieson said...

At the risk of appearing to be a pribbling, tickle-brained coxcomb, I note that conjurers, blasphemers, and swaggerers have numbered among our Prime Ministers. Fornicators in high office seem more of a British and American phenomenon, or maybe our guys are just better at covering their tracks.